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Does the average Jabu Saffer understand numbers?

26 November 2012, 13:26

I remember vividly the moment when the indisputable logic behind 2x2=4 dawned on me. I was around 5 years old, and lying in bed thinking about why my teacher insisted this fact was an indisputable Truth. I held up my fingers, and LIGHTBULB MOMENT! … every time I held up two fingers on one hand and and two on the other they equaled FOUR!

Fifty years later, reading the regular, nauseating, revelations around Nkandlagate, I wonder why the vast majority of ANC voters - those who are poor and jobless, the shackdwellers, the rural women who still have to draw water (from dubious sources) and hew wood for fuel, continue to stoically support Zuma and the ANC.

Perhaps its all about the ability (or inability) of people to comprehend the logic of Numbers? … and to use this ability to quantify, measure, compare, and so come to logical, indisputable conclusions on issues like what is justifiable and fair, or what is sheer, blatant corruption and theft.

It would be interesting to audit/research, how many south africans can calculate the difference between their annual incomes (or grants they receive - considering that more citizens receive grants than wages) and the money spent on Zuma's Nkandla compound. I think most south african adults (voters) would fail.

I suspect that the majority would switch their brains off after the first three zeroes.

Think about it … if you cannot do basic sums how can you possibly comprehend the significance of the following numbers:

- R24,000 (annual state pension/grant)

- R 36000 (average annual income for unskilled person)

- R 100,000 (maximum allowed to be spent on security for president's private home)

- R 180,000 (annual income mine workers are demanding)

- R 180,000 (annual income teachers and nurses earn)

- R 2, 600,000 (Zuma's annual wage)

- R 10, 000, 000 (the estimated amount of Zuma's questionable 'bond')

- R 15, 000,000 (the annual cost to the public of Zuma's many wives and children)

- R 50, 000,000 (the annual cost to the public of the Zulu king Goodwill Zwelitheni)

- R 250,000,000 (the cost of upgrading "security" for Zuma's home)

- R 1,000,000,000 (the money stolen from the treasury by civil servants every year)

- R 27,000,000,000 (the total cost of the 2010 WCS to the SA taxpayer)

- R 30,000,000,000 (the money we borrowed from the IMF to build power stations)

- R 70,000,000,000 (the money we spent on the Arms Deal)

- R 120,000,000,000,000 (the taxes Pravin Gordhan needs to raise next year to keep delivering services to the citizens of this country)

Perhaps too many zeroes = Brain Fail for the majority of South Africans?

Perhaps this also explains the personal debt problems that afflict so many south africans - from rich idiots ( like Zuma son, Edward, and his nephew Khubulese, whose assets have recently been attached) right down to the protesting mineworkers who spent more than the R10,000 they earned and view striking for higher wages as a solution to their debt problems.

If you cannot figure out that an income of R10,000 per month does not cover spending of R20,000 per month then repossession, garnishee orders, loss of homes, starving children, and impoverishment are unavoidable.

If we seriously want a government that can set and manage budgets, improve service delivery, attack poverty and child malnutrition, build education and healthcare services and create an environent that promotes economic growth, then we need an electorate that is able to comprehend Numbers.

Perhaps its worth considering a simple solution: All citizens who want to vote must pass a basic math test.

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